2014 Grand Cherokee: Jeep’s flagship luxury SUV
It seems like yesterday that the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee was launched to critical acclaim. Grand Cherokee was refreshed in 2013 — and then more seriously refitted for the 2014 model year.
The basic look of the luxury-Jeep was unchanged, but serious functional upgrades lie under the moderately-tweaked skin. Buyers now get a state of the art transmission that provides faster acceleration and better mileage; a diesel brings higher torque and economy; underbody protection has been enhanced; and many other updates were made to improve both on-road and off-road performance.
The eight-speed automatic: across the board improvements
The eight-speed automatic comes in two forms, ZF’s 8HP70 and Chrysler’s 845RE version of the same automatic; the latter is only used on the V6. Eventually, all engines will use Chrysler-built automatics.
The eight-speed has a wide range of gears, aiding both acceleration and economy, with the ability to skip multiple gears at once, and fast gear changes and torque converter lockups. The transmission is the main reason why gas mileage rose for 2014, by 1-3 mpg, depending on configuration, and why V6 towing capacity rose 24%, to 6,200 lb.
The main benefit will likely be performance; many buyers who thought they needed a Hemi may change their minds after trying the six, with the eight-speed now standard. See details: 8HP70 and 845RE • engine power and specs.
Diesel and gasoline engines
With the new diesel option, the Grand Cherokee has best-in-class gas mileage (30 mpg highway) and range (730 miles). The state-of-the-art engine, dubbed “EcoDiesel,” is, like the V8, optional on all but Laredo.
With 240 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque, the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel is capable of towing 7,400 pounds, more than any competitor’s V-8 equipped SUVs; yet, it provides better fuel economy than the Pentastar V-6 engine.
The diesel’s responsiveness and efficiency are due in part to an extremely high pressure fuel injection system (with 29,000-psi / 2,000-bar fuel pressure, dubbed MultiJet II); swirl-control intake ports; and a variable-geometry turbocharger that cuts turbo lag.
The 24-valve, dual-overhead-cam engine is based on a block and bed plate made of strong compacted graphite iron (CGI), slashing weight. The 1-4-2-5- 3-6 firing order avoids vibration, ending the need for a balance shaft.
The 50-state-legal EcoDiesel engine is compliant with Tier II, Bin 5 and ULEV II emissions controls. To manage temperature extremes, the turbocharger is water-cooled, and low-voltage ceramic glow plugs provide quicker cold-weather starts. The engine has been approved and tested for 5% biodiesel. (More on the VM 3.0 diesel / Jeep EcoDiesel engine)
European buyers will have a choice of two performance levels from the diesel engine; one produces 190 horsepower, the other produces 250 horsepower (up 9 hp from 2013 models). All three gasoline engines are available in Europe.
New for 2014, all Jeep Grand Cherokees come with the V6 as standard equipment; in the past, upper models came with the V8, but the eight-speed automatic gives new life to the V6. The V8 and EcoDiesel engine are optional on Limited, Overland, and Summit. The V8, dubbed “Hemi” when used by Dodge and Ram, shuts off four cylinders when they are not needed, increasing gas mileage. Also see: Pentastar V6 and Hemi V8 options, and 2013 powertrains.
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee’s new Eco Mode alters the shift schedule and manages the interactive deceleration fuel shut-off (IDFSO), which cuts fuel delivery when the vehicle is coasting. With Eco mode on and Quadra-Lift installed, the Jeep is also automatically lowered at higher speeds to cut wind resistance. When buyers opt for the V8, the system alters cylinder deactivation and throttle sensitivity for more savings.
Thanks to the new transmission, Grand Cherokee boasts an improved crawl ratio of 44.1:1 (up from 30:1) for 2014. A new feature, Selec-Speed Control, has been added; it includes both Hill Descent Control and the new Hill Ascent Control, allowing the Grand Cherokee to both climb and descend from steep grades with minimal driver input.
The QuadraDrive I system is a full time locking 4x4 setup; QuadraDrive II is available on Limited and Overland, and standard on Summit (Build & Price showed it to be standard on Limited V6; thanks, Theodore). This system provides a two-speed transfer case, adding a low-4x4 mode.
The anti-lock brake system is now capable of detecting if the vehicle is driving on a rough road by the oscillations in the wheel speed signals; rough roads can be detected on off-road surfaces or trails, and the ABS enters a different pressure control where it will hold the brake pressure for longer pulses.
With the front air dam removed and the available Quadra-Lift air suspension, the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee has a 35.8° approach angle, a 29.6° departure angle, and a 23.5° breakover angle.
On-road, revised variable-rate rear springs deliver better handling and comfort. The stiff body includes more than 5,400 welds. Electrohydraulic steering is used on EcoDiesel and Pentastar V-6 models (the V8 remains wedded to a “pure” hydraulic steering system).
The Quadra-Lift air suspension system, optional on 4x4s, has five height settings. Two are for off-road use (raising 1.3 and 2.6 inches above normal, to a maximum 11.1 inches of ground clearance), one lowers the car 0.6 inches for better aerodynamics, one is normal, and one lowers the car by 1.6 inches for entry and exit. Use of Aero Mode is automatic at speeds over 56 mph (or sustained between 52 and 56 for 20 seconds) when Eco Mode is active.
Using a reservoir tank and pressures of 220 psi, Quadra-Lift operates four-corner air springs automatically, or via console controls, with 4.1 inches of travel and continuous load levelling. The Aero control is automatic and speed-controlled.
There is a front compressor in the system, but it’s only present for repressurizing the system after it has been serviced, while connected to a nitrogen tank (using a hose behind the rear seat); the system can be depressurized using a scan tool. The system can be temporarily deactivated by jacking up the car or putting it onto a lift; Chrysler recommends using Sport mode for wheel alignments (Aero mode if you’re doing an alignment using a scan tool.)
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee is also available with load-leveling shocks the two systems are not available together). When payload is added to the vehicle, the shock’s gas pressure increases until the vehicle reaches normal ride height, to improve load handling and trailer towing. Load-leveling shocks are optional with trailer-tow packages that do not already have the Quadra-Lift air suspension.
Selec-Terrain terrain management system
The Selec-Terrain™ traction control system, refined from 2013, coordinates throttle control, shifting, the transfer case, stability control, hill descent control, and related systems on 4x4s. Optional on Laredo E, and standard on higher models, it has five driver-selectable positions:
- Automatic with torque split at around 40/60 front/rear
- Sand, Mud, and Snow (three separate options). Traction control and Quadra-Lift are more sensitive to wheel spin, and torque is tuned for each particular surface’s attributes; targeted 50/50 torque split
- Rock: Quadra-Lift raises the suspension to its full height and the transfer case, differentials, and throttle coordinate to provide low-speed control; around 50/50 torque split
Sport mode, which cuts back the traction control, lowers the vehicle (when an air suspension is used), and puts more power to the rear wheels, has been moved from Selec-Terrain to the shift lever.
Technology and comfort
Interior options include Natura leather, exotic open-pore wood trim, and new colors.
The most looked at area of the interior, the gauge cluster, now has a customer-configurable 7-inch Thin-Film Transistor (TFT) liquid-crystal display, which can be configured one hundred different ways. Navigation, audio, fuel economy info, Selec-Terrain modes, and warning indicators can all be displayed in the 7-inch screen. The display’s pixel illumination is more precisely controlled than in most consumer electronics, which makes for “blacker” blacks, more vivid colors, and crisper graphics, which are critical to instant recognition.
New touchscreens are integrated into the center stack; Laredo and Limited come with a new 5-inch touchscreen that controls audio, climate, phone and functions such as the heated seats or how long the headlamps stay on after the ignition has been turned off. Jeep designers installed redundant controls for audio and climate below the touch screen, for rapid manipulation.
Standard on Overland and Summit, and available on other models, is an 8.4-inch touchscreen that controls navigation, audio, climate, phone, settings, and Uconnect Access. This system has large, easy to read graphics with intuitive, easy to use controls.
Second-row passengers can treat themselves to video entertainment via an available seatback Blu-ray video system (delayed availability). This new system will play standard DVDs as well as Blu-ray discs, and has inputs for HDMI or RCA cables for each screen integrated into the seat backs. Wireless headphones and a remote are included.
Summit models feature a 19-speaker, 825-watt Harman Kardon audio system, which drives nine tweeters, five mid-range speakers, two mid-range woofers, and 3 subwoofers from a 12-channel Class D amplifier with GreenEdge technology for higher efficiency.
In response to a customer asking about why the Grand Cherokee does not have power-adjustable pedals, Mike Driehorst wrote:
Adjustable pedals help offset lack of driver comfort setting to the wheel and pedal package. On the 2011 Grand Cherokee, we choose to provide greater steering column stroke and fore-aft adjustment and greater seat fore-aft/up-down travel to allow the driver to locate to the proper position instead of adjustable pedals. When the adjustable pedals were first added to the 1999 Grand Cherokee and continued on 2005 Grand Cherokee, the column was not telescoping and the seat travel was less than the 2011. We added a manual telescoping column in 2008 Grand Cherokee, but maintained the adjustable pedals due to limited seat travel.
Most of the premium SUV competition (BMW X5, Mercedes ML) do not have adjustable pedals. They also use the column/seat approach. We do have a power column that is standard on the Limited/Overland models.
Safety and convenience
Many of these features are optional and may not be available on all models.
New safety/convenience features include front park assist, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision warning with crash mitigation; these systems all use the same sensors in the front bumper. The adaptive cruise control, also used on Chrysler 300 and other cars, maintains a safe (and adjustable) distance from the car in front, handy for highway driving where speeds may change mildly but frequently.
Front park assistance works as rear park assistance does, by illuminating an indicator and (optionally) sounding an alarm when the front bumper gets close to an object; the closer one gets, the more insistent the alarm (the indicator also changes color).
Forward collision warning detects when the vehicle may be approaching another vehicle too rapidly and alerts the driver with a unique audio pattern and a flashing light in the gauge cluster. Crash Mitigation pressurizes the braking system so full braking power will be available instantly, when the driver uses the pedal; if the driver does not react, the system also will provide a brake pulse followed by partial braking (the driver is still required to apply the brake to stop the Grand Cherokee, but the pulse may wake dozing drivers even if the alarm fails to do so).
Daytime running lights (DRL) are now standard on all models, and Grand Cherokee Summit models now come standard with adaptive bi-xenon high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps that swivel in the direction of a turn. The headlamps have full LED turn indicators.
Standard in Overland and Summit, and available on Limited, are bi-xenon headlamps (adaptive on Summit) that are outlined with LED running lamps. A slight curve upward along the bottom row of the LED lights allows for the hidden headlamp washers to be placed within the housing, rather than using a nozzle on the bumper.
Blind-spot Monitoring (BSM) and Rear Cross Path detection (RCP) – which aid drivers when changing lanes or in parking lot situations – are also available. In addition, standard front-row active head restraints, standard full-length side-curtain air bags and standard seat-mounted side thorax air bags offer enhanced occupant protection to passengers in the event of a collision.
A feature many drivers will use frequently is the “cap-less” fuel filler door. Electronically locked, the filler door no longer requires a separate cap; a similar feature has been used on Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger.
Available Selec-Speed Control, new for 2014, allows the driver to control the rate of hill ascent and descent without having to touch the pedals. Standard trailer-sway control (TSC) enhances towing capabilities and keeps the vehicle and trailer aligned going down the road.
Full-length side-curtain air bags extend protection to all outboard front- and rear-seat passengers. Each side air bag has its own impact sensor that triggers the air bag on the side where an impact occurs. This air bag is housed in the headliner, just above the side windows.
The Limited model will have a new power liftgate, heated steering wheel, and rear USB charging ports. Overland will get new wheels, a higher-end, upgraded radio, and forward collision warning with crash mitigation, forward park alert, and adaptive cruise. Summit will get Natura Plus leather with Alcantara welting, an Alcantara wrapped A-pillar, rear-seat armrests with wood, adaptive headlamps, and the 19-speaker SRT Audio Performance System.
Even the base Laredo will get chrome bezels around the door controls, the new TFT cluster display, a new center bezel, metal mesh speaker covers rather than plastic, upgraded center console bin door and trim, and a new center console with CD player and USB, SD-card, and auxiliary inputs.
The new 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee is built at the Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit, which has been the site of Grand Cherokee production since its introduction in 1992. To meet consumer demand, a third crew of 1,100 workers was added at JNAP in the fourth quarter of 2012.
UConnect Access and Access Via Mobile
In North America, Uconnect Access uses embedded cellular technology on the Sprint network to connects occupants directly with emergency dispatchers at the push of the “9-1-1” button on the Grand Cherokee’s rear-view mirror — or connects occupants to Chrysler’s roadside assistance provider or the customer care center when the “Assist” button is pressed.
Theft Alarm Notification alerts up to five people via SMS text message or e-mail whenever their security alarms are activated. One can also remotely (via an app) sound a vehicle’s horn and flash its lights, remotely lock or unlock the doors, and use remote-start.
With Access Via Mobile, customers can interact with cell-phone apps from Pandora to Slacker, via voice command and steering-wheel controls; voice processing is exported to a cloud facility, and also used for climate control, audio, and other features. The cloud also enables voice texting — the occupant speaks and processing power in a distant computer center converts their text to speech. Cell phones that use the Bluetooth and Message Access Protocol (MAP) can get a text message, identify the sender, and read the message aloud; drivers can dictate a reply.
The same advanced voice recognition simplifies the process of entering navigation-system destinations with both hands on the wheel. In the new 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, the system will accept continuous, single-sentence instructions, such as: “Navigate to Arches National Park, Moab, Utah.” Travel is made easier by new 3D maps with graphic representations of well-known landmarks and terrain features.
The Grand Cherokee can also be used as a Wi-Fi hot spot; or drivers can access the Bing search engine via voice command. Uconnect navigation can calculate a route, or stores the destination’s telephone number for handsfree calling.